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Something in the Way She Moves: The Influence of Shoe-Altered Gait on Motion And Trait Impressions of Women
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by Kathy D. Walter, Sheila Brownlow*, Sammi L. Ervin, and Nicole Williamson - Catawba College
Categories: Personality | Social
Because information about traits and characteristics is conveyed by physical motion, the way people walk affects our judgments of others. This study examined how women’s gaits are affected by high heels, and how subsequent impressions of women change based on movement-altering footwear. To isolate motion from other nonverbal cues, the point-light technique (Johansson, 1973) was used to film women walking barefooted and in high heels. This procedure produced displays of moving dots against a black background. Judgments of motion and traits revealed that the gaits of women wearing high heels were stiffer and included less hip sway and arm swing. More importantly, women in heels were perceived as more submissive than when barefoot, although they were also judged as less sexy. Perceived age of the walkers and knowledge of their sex did not alter these perceptions. Thus, high heels make women appear to be physically passive and seem more submissive.